Minimally-verbal children with autism show deficits in theta and gamma oscillations during processing of semantically-related visual information

Silvia Ortiz-Mantilla, Chiara Cantiani, Valerie L. Shafer, April Benasich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

To acquire language, children must build phonemic representations of their native language, learn to associate auditory words to visual objects and assemble a lexicon. It is not clear however, whether the limited linguistic ability seen in minimally-verbal (MV) children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) relates to deficits in cortical representation of an object and/or in linking an object to its semantic information. This EEG-based study investigated neural mechanisms underlying visual processing of common objects in MV-ASD and control children. Ten MV-ASD children, 4- to 7- years-old and 15 age/gender-matched controls, were presented with a picture-word matching paradigm. Time-frequency analyses were conducted at the sources generating the event-related responses at both early and late visual processing. Permutation testing identified spectral power and phase coherence clusters that significantly differed between the groups. As compared to controls, MV-ASD children exhibited smaller amplitudes and longer source latencies; decreased gamma and theta power with less theta phase coherence in occipital regions, and reduced frontal gamma power. Our results confirm that visual processing is altered in MV-ASD children and suggest that some of the linguistic differences observed in these children arise from impaired object/label cortical representations and reduced allocation of attention, which would impact lexical acquisition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5072
JournalScientific reports
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

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Autistic Disorder
Linguistics
Child Language
Occipital Lobe
Aptitude
Semantics
Electroencephalography
Language
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Power (Psychology)

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

Cite this

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title = "Minimally-verbal children with autism show deficits in theta and gamma oscillations during processing of semantically-related visual information",
abstract = "To acquire language, children must build phonemic representations of their native language, learn to associate auditory words to visual objects and assemble a lexicon. It is not clear however, whether the limited linguistic ability seen in minimally-verbal (MV) children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) relates to deficits in cortical representation of an object and/or in linking an object to its semantic information. This EEG-based study investigated neural mechanisms underlying visual processing of common objects in MV-ASD and control children. Ten MV-ASD children, 4- to 7- years-old and 15 age/gender-matched controls, were presented with a picture-word matching paradigm. Time-frequency analyses were conducted at the sources generating the event-related responses at both early and late visual processing. Permutation testing identified spectral power and phase coherence clusters that significantly differed between the groups. As compared to controls, MV-ASD children exhibited smaller amplitudes and longer source latencies; decreased gamma and theta power with less theta phase coherence in occipital regions, and reduced frontal gamma power. Our results confirm that visual processing is altered in MV-ASD children and suggest that some of the linguistic differences observed in these children arise from impaired object/label cortical representations and reduced allocation of attention, which would impact lexical acquisition.",
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Minimally-verbal children with autism show deficits in theta and gamma oscillations during processing of semantically-related visual information. / Ortiz-Mantilla, Silvia; Cantiani, Chiara; Shafer, Valerie L.; Benasich, April.

In: Scientific reports, Vol. 9, No. 1, 5072, 01.12.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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